London, whether born and bred or simply passing through, has seen a wealth of literary greats walk the city’s streets. From arguably the greatest playwright the world has ever seen to the father of one of horror’s most revered characters, it isn’t just history’s most notorious villains whose footsteps you will be retracing.
While our famous Jack the Ripper walking tour will retrace one of Britain’s most fiendish serial killers, at East End Tours, we also like to make a point of highlighting some of the very best to pass through our streets.
We can’t talk about literary greats without mentioning William Shakespeare. Of course, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is some 100 miles northwest of London. However, he is known to have lived in London for some time also. Records show that he lived in Bishopsgate and later at Bankside. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a reminder of his London connections.
Anyone who has read a Dickens novel will know that London features heavily in them all. Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Pickwick Papers are all based in and around the city’s capital and offer great insight into what London life was like at the time they were written. A Tale of Two Cities is famously set in London and Paris. Dickens was actually born in Portsmouth and his family moved to Kent whilst his was a child. He then moved to Camden Town as an adult whilst working in a warehouse that was close to the existing Charing Cross railway station.
The writer of novels such as The Years and Mrs Dalloway was born in London and lived in Kensington. Woolf studied at King’s College and had a very contrasting life in London compared to Dickens who came from a poor family. She later lived in Richmond where it is claimed she moved to enable to help recover from depression. Mrs Dalloway features a lot of London locations, particularly when describing walks around the city.
Poet John Keats is another literary great that was born in London. Keats suffered a tragically short life, his parents died whilst he was young and Keats himself passed away at just 25 years old.
The writer of Dracula, Bram Stoker, was born in Dublin but moved to London, where he wrote the great novel. Stoker worked at the Lyceum Theatre and many scenes from his novel are based around London. Dracula Day takes place on 26 May and no doubt people will be celebrating by taking a guided tour of locations linked to Dracula.
If you like guided tours then you might also want to try the Jack the Ripper walking tour, for some more spine-chilling stories. The Ripper crimes took place mostly in London’s East End and the guided tours take you to the scenes of the terrible unsolved murders.
There are so many literary greats that have connections with London, both the appeal of living in the city and being closer to publishers and theatres will no doubt have been a big influence for those who chose to move to the capital.